Thursday, June 24, 2010

Book Review: "Unfashionable"

Title: Unfashionable
Sub-title: Making a difference in the world by being different
Author: Tullian Tchividjian
Publisher: Multnomah
Book Type: Christian Living
Page Length: 196
Chapters: 17 chapters, Foreword, Introduction, Acknowledgments
SRP: $17.99
Suggested Audience: Christians who want live a life that looks different than the lost world around them.

Strengths: The back half of the book finishes extremely well. Tchividjian closes strong and saves the best for last in this book. This book is a great follow up book to a Crazy Love (Francis Chan) or a Don’t Waste Your Life (Dr. John Piper) kind of book. It’s a well-written book from a PCA pastor but it doesn’t have the overly robotic or formal academic feel of a Presbyterian author. Tchividjian does keep this book extremely theologically sound by not trying so desperately to play at our heart strings and inspire us that he leaves his foundation in search of something else. As a PCA guy, this is quite a breath of fresh air.

Weaknesses: This book starts slow and I found myself wading through the first half and having to really muscle through it. I actually put it down for a while and picked it back up again. I have had multiple people agree with me on this without even bringing it up to them before hand.

My thoughts: I enjoyed it. This book gives us a glance of what it looks like to be a Christian but it does so from 30,000 feet looking down. Meaning, it invites us to view how God sees believers existing and transforming and living among those who know not Christ at all. It gets us out of this goofy mindset where we compare ourselves to others rather than Christ. This book will build your character and challenge you in many facets.

Notable quotes: “Your citizenship has changed.”
“The kingdom is already here in true form, but it is not yet in its full form.”
“...Christians are called to be unfashionable by being mission-minded, not tribal-minded like everyone else.”
“In the Bible, however, the word for church literally means “the called-out ones...”
“We must choose to speak redemptively.”

Monday, June 21, 2010

Book Review: "Finally Alive"

Title: Finally Alive
Sub-title: What Happens When We Are Born Again
Author: John Piper
Publisher: Christian Focus
Book Type: Theology
Page Length: 203
Chapters: Introduction, 15 chapters, Conclusion
SRP: $14.99
Suggested Audience: Believers who want to better understand Biblical regeneration.

Strengths: Very clear, very thorough and yet very tight and clean. It’s deep without being deep for the sake of being deep and it’s weighty without being made weighty in an attempt to add academic prowess to the book. It is broken up into parts, chapters, and sections so it’s easy to read and it never gets to run together which is great because it is such a weighty book.

Weaknesses: I don’t really see any weaknesses in this book. It’s well written and it is very clear on a very important doctrine. Piper is a great writer and a great reformed theologian so it’s no surprise how strong this book is.

My thoughts: If you’re of the Arminian theological camp then you’ll hate this book unless God really just opens your eyes to the truth Piper is conveying in these pages. If you’re a Calvinist, you’ll love this book. I love this book. I will recommend it to anyone that wants to read more about regeneration and what the Bible has to say about new birth. This is not my favorite Piper book, but it will be very difficult for another author to write a book on regeneration that I like more than Finally Alive.

Notable quotes: “The instant God gives new life, we do the living. The instant the Spirit produces faith, we do the believing.”
“My nature is my deepest personal problem.”
“Love doesn’t think possessively. Love knows everything belongs to God.”
“So the way God brings about the new birth in dead, unbelieving hearts is by the gospel, the good news.”

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"The Condition of Man: Part One"

It’s no secret that I am reformed in my theology. I’m not a hyper-Calvinist by any means because I believe that God’s Sovereignty over all things is NOT an excuse to sit on our hands and disobey the Great Commission. You’ve got to point to something far greater and far bigger than reformed theology if you want to kill missions. I’m a reformed, gospel-sharing, evangelical believer in Sovereign Grace and I don’t ever apologize for it.

However, I do hate the word “Calvinism” and all its’ derivatives. It’s such a divisive word—especially in the southern church culture. Most southern church folk know nothing about John Calvin and Calvinism. They simply hear Calvinism and identify it as heresy. Why? Because that’s what they "heard from somebody one time"...and most people aren’t responsible enough to recognize that whenever a bunch of people follow some guy's teachings without ever actually studying or researching truth/the Bible for themselves, then they are, in fact, not in a church, but rather a cult. Cults are fun that way. One guy talks and everybody listens without any independent thought or Biblical corroboration ever entering the picture. Then all of a sudden the FBI is all over the place wondering why they’ve got a thousand dead bodies dressed in white robes with red Kool-Aid mustaches—but that’s another blog for another day.

So what’s my point?

In my conversations with those that hold theological view points that are completely opposite of my own, I always come to find that the root of the disagreement is our opposing views on the condition of mankind. If we don’t agree on how tragically hopeless mankind is, then we will not agree on the relationship between mankind and the Godhead and therefore will not agree on the role that the Triune Godhead plays in salvation. If I say a Mack truck will crush us and you treat it like a little, yellow Tonka toy then clearly we have a problem—clearly there is a disconnect in communication, philosophy, and theology.

So this will be the first of many in a series called “The Condition of Man.” The verse that many people love to pull out of the air in Sovereign grace arguments and conversations is Revelation 3:20, which in the ESV (like I said, I’m reformed) says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” I still can’t figure out why they throw this verse in my face. This verse damages their case. Sure it says “anyone” (they love that word) but that doesn’t mean that “everyone” can or will open the door. It baffles me as a thinker that someone could see this verse and say “See! Anyone that wants to choose Jesus can freely choose Christ whenever they want!”

The word “If” in the middle of that’s a really, really big “if.” Let me paint this picture. Jesus is on the outside of a door and the man is on the other side of the door in a house, cabin, hut or whatever. Jesus knocks on the door and apparently He is saying something, because the verse says “hears my voice.” The man on the inside of the building is on the other side of the door and he has to move from wherever he is before Jesus knocks to the door and open it for Jesus to come in. This is a picture of salvation. Eating with Jesus symbolizes relationship and closeness. It is important to understand that at the end of it all when Jesus comes back (according to Revelation) the followers of Christ (real Christians) will eat with Christ in celebration of Him and victory over sin and death while those who are not believers will NOT be anywhere near the party—they will be in hell, separated from Christ. Believe me when I say that I write that with a heavy heart.

So the guy that gets up and answers the door that Jesus knocks on—he’s in. The man who, for whatever reason, does not answer the door—he’s condemned. So answering this symbolic, spiritual door is necessary for salvation.’s my question and also my point: What is the condition of the man on the other side of door? Let’s see what the Bible says about man’s condition. I promise that when this series is done, we will see that the Bible makes it really clear that mankind is hopeless and helpless. We are utterly and totally depraved and have total inability to do anything for ourselves spiritually before Christ saves us.

So here’s a little preview of point one: The man on the other side of the spiritual door is spiritually dead.

So believe me when I say that the dead man on the other side of the spiritual door has zero chance of reaching that door on the basis of his own merits and abilities. And by the way, his deadness is only the beginning of his problems—it gets much, much worse. So far, this is all turning out quite gleeful and chipper...isn’t it?